Incorporating the Best Preschool Practices For Your Child
Kinderland is a leading provider of quality infant and child care, bilingual preschool education and premiere student care for children two months to 12 years of age. Kinderland’s child care franchise in Siglap, owned by Janet Ho, is one of the best performing franchisees for the Kinderland brand. From a humble initial enrolment of 20 children, Janet’s efficient operational framework, consistent strive to add value to the brand and love and passion for nurturing children has resulted in a successful franchise business, and also the Franchisee of the Year Award 2009. Franchise Asia did a quick interview with Janet Ho to find out what it takes to excel in this field.
Is this your first business venture?
Yes, this is my first business venture.
Why did you select the franchise business model compared to starting your own business?
Without any experience and background in the child care business, it was obvious at that time that it would be easier for me to take up a franchise that was established and reputable. That’s why I chose Kinderland.
The Kinderland franchise allowed me to save a lot of time and resources that would otherwise be spent on building a brand from scratch. It also allowed me to devote my time to what truly matters – the children.
What prompted you to select your current franchisor?
Kinderland is an established and reliable brand and it also has its own preschool teacher training arm. It has a proper franchise system that provides clear operational procedures that allowed me to integrate personal and business goals, values and practices into an established business model. One of Kinderland’s biggest attractions is the in-house developed curriculum that incorporates the best preschool practices from both the East and the West.
How much did you allocate as your business capital?
At that time, I had allocated S$150,000 as my business capital.
How long did it take before you recovered your return of investment (ROI)?
It took about one year.
So far, are you satisfied with the support and training offered by the franchisor?
I was absolutely convinced that the established brand name offered by Kinderland would be a guarantee for success. The Kinderland team has been tremendously encouraging and supportive, especially in the initial years when I faced much difficulty in enrolling children for my centre because I was very new and had no experience at all in the business.
What were the challenges you faced before and after you started the franchise business?
The main challenge was my own inexperience, and it showed in the initial enrolment. With the encouragement and close support from Kinderland, I was subsequently able to meet my target. The other challenge was to ensure that the teachers were able to deliver the high quality of service expected under the franchise agreement and to maintain integrity of the Kinderland brand.
What are the pitfalls a potential franchisee must be aware of?
The main pitfall is failure to believe in and understand the business model. I have tremendous faith in the Kinderland system and programme and made it a point to understand how it works, so that I could follow the standard operating procedures closely in order to run the business successfully. It is also very important for a franchisee to have the stamina – of persistence and finance – because there is a chain of resource and system to set up before you can run a centre properly and professionally. Last, but not least, one must have the passion for nurturing children – otherwise one should not get into this business at all.
Please explain the processes that you have gone through in setting up the franchise (such as site selection; loan application; training; staff recruitment etc). How long does this roughly take?
The franchisor will send their professional staff to assist us in site location complying with the different ministries’ requirements. They also provide professional advice in the renovation work and upgrading the centre with all the necessary learning materials, appropriate to the age of the children. They provide training to staff and teachers in using the operations and curriculum manuals to ensure that the centre is run according to Kinderland’s requirements and standards. The whole process takes approximately three to four months.
Besides the investment costs of a franchisee, what other costs that are not directly related but necessary for you to take into account?
There was obviously the lost of opportunity cost in terms of the salary I could have earned in the first several months of the franchise, if I had been working instead. You don’t expect to make money immediately upon signing up for a franchise. There was obviously an investment risk; as I could have lost everything if I had given up after the initial failures in getting enough enrolments.
Please share from your experience, the biggest challenges you had to face and how you succeeded in overcoming them.
Initially, the biggest challenge was enrolment. When I began, there were only about 20 children in my centre. As with every business, starting the entire operations without any experience in running a child care centre was the most difficult part. Kinderland, though, did brilliantly in easing me into the operational mechanics, even sending their staff down from time to time to make sure I was doing alright. Before I knew it, the numbers started growing.
What is your advice for prospective franchisees of this business?
To adopt a sound franchise model that is ready-made with successful formula so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and incur unnecessary expenses building up a new brand in this very competitive industry.
In the recent FLAward 2009 organised by the Franchising & Licensing Association Singapore (FLA Singapore), you won the Franchisee of the Year 2009 for the Kinderland brand. What winning this award means to you personally and as a franchisee?
Personally, this award is an affirmation of what we have done are on track. It has brought me immerse joy and satisfaction. As a franchisee, I will continue to do my utmost in providing the highest standards of care and education for our children.
In what ways have FLA Singapore contributed in helping you become a successful franchisee?
The Association has done an admirable job in promoting franchising in Singapore and the benefits of choosing the right franchise. It has obviously given many people the encouragement to adopt the franchise model and inspired many people with the right business attitude to succeed.